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Students meeting in front of the Centre for Innovation

Lucy CarterLucy Carter

After graduating with honours in Sociology, Lucy Carter started her career as a project coordinator for the Economic and Social Development branch of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

At Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Lucy (Ngāi Tahu/ Kai Tahu) was involved in a wide range of projects including promoting traditional art and helping market authentic pounamu and the produce of local food producers pursuing sustainable practices.

"At the core of my projects is the vision of mō tātou, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei (for us and our children after us), which is a guiding principle of Ngāi Tahu and, in my opinion, is the principle behind a lot of sociology — working not only to understand the society we live in but to have a positive impact that may be inherited and looking to a better future," she says.

Sociology and the humanities are important subjects because they teach you about ethics, says Lucy.

"Social responsibilities are increasingly valuable because they are becoming more and more important for companies now and in the future. Having an understanding of ethics is valuable in the job market."

Christchurch-raised Lucy fell in love with Otago when she visited her elder sister at the University.

Lucy began studying Law, but it wasn't a good fit, and she moved on to Classics. It was in her third year that she decided that the Sociology papers she had been taking throughout were what she really wanted to do.

"It was a great decision. Sociology's the study of the consequences of human behaviour with an emphasis on social organisation and the conflicts that arise when the concept of normality is questioned.

"It teaches abstract thinking and problem solving with a strong emphasis on research skills. It teaches you different ways of thinking and to approach issues from a range of perspectives.

"In my day to day life I find myself constantly using the variety of skills I learned from my time at Otago."

After a couple of years at Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Lucy won a Fulbright Science and Innovation Graduate Award. She recently completed a Master of Arts in Environmental Sociology at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, USA.

Lucy's masters' studies focussed on social recovery and hazard mitigation in the event of natural disaster, an important and very relevant subject to someone born and bred in earthquake-hit Christchurch.

Lucy is currently a research associate at the Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis (CDRA) at Colorado State University.

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